While we love to free camp in the Australian bush where we can, we also enjoy staying in RV-friendly towns, where locals tempt caravanners to stay over and spend money in local businesses. These towns are often small rural communities, many of which are doing it tough in times of drought, and we are always happy to stay and support them.
Usually free of charge or for a minimal donation, the facilities include a safe place to camp in or near the centre of town. Extra features can include any or all of toilets, showers, BBQs, playgrounds, potable water to top up the tanks, and caravan waste dump points.
We find it’s a great way to stop and visit a place that might usually be driven through, as well as support a small town by stocking up on groceries and fuel, and even dropping into the laundromat to spring clean the clothes!
Walpeup in Victoria was delightful ($10 donation night), with power and showers, and even a washing machine for the princely sum of $2 per load. We even found some emus popping up over the side fence!
We fell in love with the little village of Greenock, which is a great base for exploring South Australia’s Barossa Valley wine region. We set up camp at the edge of the green sports oval, just one street back from the main street ($5 donation per night), and set off in search of boutique breweries and wineries. Note, we didn’t have far to go before we found the quaint Greenock Brewery, where we sampled the local brews and bubbly and enjoyed swapping tales with a great group of locals and tourists alike. Next stop, the Greenock tavern for fine local fare and a little more wine and ale. Next morning we noted some of the creative local entries in the Scarecrow Trail, a delightful competition being run across the Barossa.
We have found over the years that ‘free camps’ often turn out to cost us quite a bit! A bit like country pubs that offer ‘free camps’ if you drop in to the pub … we’ve been known to spend $100 on a few drinks and dinner at these ‘free camps’! Still, it’s good for local businesses.
Our next planned free camp was Peterborough, South Australia’s historic rail town in the southern Flinders Ranges. This is a popular and well established RV-friendly town, which we visited on an earlier trip two years ago. We were returning this time to see the famed Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre’s Sound and Light Show but, as luck would have it, they were upgrading the special projector … no show tonight, folks! ☹ So, we stocked up on water and supplies and did the laundry, before heading north towards the remote Flinders Ranges.